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Rare Porpoise Relocation Succeeds in China
Finless porpoises, rare mammals endemic to the Yangtze River, have been successfully relocated to a deserted Yangtze waterway in Hubei Province from their polluted mainstream habitat.

This is the world's first successful relocation of porpoises, says Zhang Xianfeng, an expert on porpoises at a local hydrobiology institute affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The Yangtze River had seen numbers of finless porpoises dwindle due to worsening pollution and a shipping boom: from 2,700 in 1992 to fewer than 2,000 ten years later, Zhang said.

To save the rare species, in 1992, a natural reserve was set up in a deserted waterway of the Yangtze River in Shishou, Hubei Province, where the Yangtze changed its course from a curved route to a straight one 30 years ago.

And the waterway has turned out to be an ideal habitat for finless porpoises with clean water, little pollution, scant human activity and no shipping at all.

Xiao Sixin, a senior official of the reserve, confirmed the healthy status of the finless porpoises in their new 2,000-hectare home, saying that they had increased from about a dozen to more than 20.

The species, together with its close relative, the white-fin dolphin, are rare mammals endemic to the Yangtze River. Dr. Zhang said this success may help bring about the successful relocation of white-fin dolphins.

(Xinhua News Agency June 17, 2002)

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